Exterior of Hotel Rangá at nighttime underneath the moon.

Iceland in January: Rangá Recommends

Dear friends of Hotel Rangá: Happy new year! We are always happy to welcome a new year and the new beginnings it brings but this year is especially exciting since it marks Hotel Rangá’s 20th anniversary. This calls for a year-long celebration of course and we thought we’d recommend some ways to start the year of on the right foot.

Iceland in January is a lovely time to explore the countryside and look for the northern lights. The temperature might be a bit chilly, but you can get warm in one of Hotel Rangá’s geothermal hot tubs. In January, the days begin to get longer. In fact, we gain almost 3 hours of daylight just in January alone.

Northern lights over Hotel Rangá in south Iceland.
The northern lights glow green over Hotel Rangá in Iceland. Photo by Brent Darby.

Look up for the northern lights

January in Iceland is still prime northern lights season. To see the northern lights, we need clear skies and no solar activity. Helpful sites like auroraforecast.is make it possible to get an idea of whether the northern lights will appear. However, we can never truly predict if we will see the northern lights – it is part of their magic!

Two girls dressed as elves stand in front of a bonfire in Iceland in January.
Bonfires burn bright. Photo by Eyrún Aníta Gylfadóttir.

Dance with the elves

The 6th of January or ‘The Thirteenth Night’ marks the end of Christmas. Icelanders all around the country celebrate with bonfires and the last of the New Years’ fireworks.

One bonfire takes place every year, at 9pm by Goðaland in Hotel Rangá’s neighboring Fljótshlíð. The event is called Álfadans or ‘elf-dance’ as the elves are rumored to be out and about on the thirteenth night after Christmas. Much like on New Year’s Eve, seals are said to shed their skins and walk the beaches for this occasion and cows speak in human voices. We recommend the bonfire over the cow-house – while Icelandic elves are friendly, the cows try to make their human listeners go mad.

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Food & drinks

Up until the year 1700, Icelanders had their own calendar year instead of the Gregorian one we use today. It consists of six months of winter and six months of summer. What’s more, each month has its own Icelandic name.

January 25th marks the beginning of the fourth month of winter, Þorri, during which time Icelanders celebrate by gorging on traditional Icelandic food at Þorrablót. Originally, Þorrablót was a pagan midwinter sacrifice, probably to Þór the Norse god of thunder but today it’s all about the eating of cured meat and fish products and the drinking of brennivín.

Husband’s Day

The 25th is also Bóndadagur or husband’s-day. On Bóndadagur, Icelanders celebrate Icelandic men. Take part in the tradition by wishing male passerby a happy Bóndadagur during your travels. And be sure to make plans for February’s Konudagur, when the lady of the household is celebrated.

Just breathe

Take some time to make sure you leave the stresses of 2018 behind you. Use January to focus on relaxation and gathering your thoughts for the year ahead.

Take a walk along the Rangá river or find a new perspective from the mountains. Let our in-house masseuse knead the tension from your body or have your worries float away in our outdoor hot tubs under the northern lights. Play pool with a friend in our game room and try Icelandic delicacies in our restaurant. Whether you eat slowly or with abandon is up to you – just remember to savor the moment.

More recommendations for your winter travels

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    A glass of red and white wine beside a vase of lupine at the luxury Rangá Restaurant.